Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Cambridge Companion to JE


Over the next few weeks I'm hoping to post some comments on the JE companion from CUP. My initial impression is that is represents the best of the current crop of scholarship on various aspects of Edwards' life and thought. There are a number of gaps here and there (it would have been good to have had a chapter on personal piety, though the issues arises here and there) but in general it is an excellent introduction. It will quickly be listed as a standard textbook for college classes on JE, along with Marsden's biography. Considering the terrifying vastness of writing on JE it is a welcome relief to have so much distilled into 350 pages.
The volume is edited by Steve Stein and it reflects his exacting standards. The introduction serves as a useful guide to where we are now with Edwards and how we got to this point. If nothing else this Companion will add further ammunition for those attempting to present a more complex, historical, and interesting Edwards than the one associated with Sinners. As Stein notes '[t]he goal of this Cambridge Companion to Jonathan Edwards is to provide a wide-ranging interdisciplinary encounter with this significant American figure' [9].
The first chapter is a delightful potted biography of JE from the winsome pen of George Marsden. It is a nice overview in 18 pages - even undergraduates will have no excuse. One line that stands out for me is his reference to the significance of Jerusha's death in 1748: 'Jerusha's death brought an end to twenty years of remarkable well-being in the Edwards household and inaugurated some years of painful trials' [33].

2 Comments:

Anonymous cg said...

I use the Princeton Companion with my Edwards classes - is the Cambridge one better?

6:18 pm  
Blogger Michael McClenahan said...

I'll be posting on that particular question when I get to the end!

8:18 pm  

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